Assistance For Upper West Siders During This Time From Council Member Rosenthal

April 2, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you and your families are well and staying home, if possible.

Our ongoing and profound thanks to all the front-line workers across the city who are serving and caring for the rest of us.

My work with our city’s social service providers (senior centers, homeless outreach teams, domestic violence counselors and shelters, etc.) has shifted to ensuring they have everything necessary to meet the needs of our most vulnerable New Yorkers.


My team is working tirelessly to ensure that our website has the most up to date information on all the benefits, resources and health facts you will need to get through the next few weeks. While some are highlighted below – please check out our website to connect with City, State, and Federal government services, as well as a wide variety of local resources that you or a loved one may find helpful.

For many of you, this may be the first time you have ever thought about obtaining social safety net benefits. I encourage you to begin to familiarize yourself with what is available and how to access it. For those that have had benefits in the past or currently have them, please be aware that the criteria for some resources has changed and new benefits added.

1.) If you have experienced COVID-19 symptoms and/or tested positive, have come into contact with someone who may have COVID-19, or are in quarantine — please share your information with the City’s Health Dept via this portal.

2.) Every day the City provides updated information on-line regarding benefits & assistance for those impacted by COVID-19. Over the past three weeks, this information has become clearer, so I urge you regularly check in for new information.

3.) Health Insurance – the NY State of Health Department recently announced a Special Enrollment Period in response to Coronavirus through 4/15. Visit their website or call 1-855-355-5777 to check eligibility.

4.) This is a very stressful time for New Yorkers. Mental health resources are available for residents by contacting 1-888-NYC-WELL or Texting “WELL” to 65173. For more information, visit: Assistance is available in multiple languages.

5.) The most recent Federal stimulus package increased the maximum unemployment benefit amount by $600 per week above one’s base benefit, and covers all workers, including self-employed and gig economy workers. Learn more here about unemployment benefits and how to apply. Please note that those not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance may qualify for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

As many of you know, it is extremely difficult to get through to the NYS unemployment insurance program at present because the number of applicants has surged. The NYS Dept of Labor is very aware that the system has been crashing, and they are working to address this as quickly as possible. Please keep trying — we have been assured that your unemployment benefits will extend back to the first day you became unemployed, not the day you were successfully able to apply.

6.) Employees — click here to find out about mandatory paid sick leave and other City laws.

7.) Small Businesses Owners — there are now two good sources of loans and grants.

  • The NYC Dept of Small Business Services is offering both “Employee Retention Grants” for businesses with 1-4 employees, and zero-interest loans for larger companies. Please note: the application deadline for the Retention Grant program is this Friday at 5pm.
  • The new Federal stimulus package adds two more loan opportunities for  small businesses, the Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loans programs. Each of these is geared towards different types of business.

If you are a small business owner or know someone who is, please email us your business email address…a letter with updated, specific info for small businesses is going out shortly.

8.) Renters — please be advised that there is a 90-day moratorium on evictions across the state. Our website includes multiple sources of legal assistance for tenants.

9.) The NYC Dept for the Aging (DFTA) has phased out “Grab and Go” meals at all NYC senior centers. Seniors who are signed up with a senior center should already have received a 5-meal package delivered directly to their homes– you will continue to get those deliveries once a week. Learn more here.

If you are a member of a local senior center and have not received your home meal delivery this week, or if you are not a senior center member and would like to sign up for meals and services, please contact:

Our website includes multiple resources for anyone who is experiencing food insecurity, or who needs assistance with a food/pharmacy delivery.If you don’t see what you need, don’t hesitate to email us at or call us at (212) 873-0282 and leave a message with your contact information.

10.) There are many ways to donate or volunteer to support NYC’s fight against COVID-19. Click here to learn more!

Samaritan’s Purse Field Hospital

Like many of you, we are deeply concerned by Mount Sinai’s decision to contract with Samaritan’s Purse to administer care in the field hospital in Central Park. My office condemns their track record of religious and homophobic discrimination.

We have received the attached statements from both Mount Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse, assuring equal treatment of patients during this time. We are thankful for the beds, additional resources, and assurance. However, given my work on implicit bias and discrimination in medical treatment — most profoundly visible in maternal morbidity, we understand that different types of people are treated differently in hospitals. We are keeping a close eye on the situation, while continuing to apply pressure to the Mayor’s Office and the NYC Commission on Human Rights to do the same.

Other items of interest to our community:

  • PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE COUNTED. Households across the country have received mailed invitations, asking them to complete the 2020 U.S. Census. Every household has the option of responding online, by phone, or by mail. Your response is essential. Learn more here.
  • Participatory Budgeting for this budget season has been canceled. This was a very difficult decision for the City Council, but in-person voting would have been impossible due to the COVID-19 crisis. The projects developed by the community for this year’s PB ballot will remain priorities for my office, and we will do our best to support as many of them as possible.
  • The New York State Democratic primary has been postponed to June 23rd.
  • Alternate Side Parking regulations will be suspended citywide until April 14th.

As always, please stay home to every extent possible for the safety of everyone. You can review NYC Dept of Health guidelines here.

Please stay well and share some kindness with yourself and the people around you.


Helen Rosenthal

P.S. Please forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested, or  have them subscribe to my e-blasts here. Also, follow my social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and/or Instagram.

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